COVID-19 – Restricted service
As an essential service recognised by our local authority, we have stayed open throughout the pandemic (including during lockdowns) to support those in greatest need. Our professional referrers from Social Care, NHS and local schools are fantastic partners, working with us to triage and support families and individuals – thank you all, it is a privilege to work alongside you as always.
We continually re-organise our site in line with Govt guidance. Working in the open and in airy barns makes ours a relatively safe environment and support from our funders and from Govt. has enabled us to deploy staff flexibly.
Our wonderful "Working Wellies" (supported volunteers) are onsite helping keep it clean and productive whenever they can be and keep in touch via zoom when we have to restrict access.
TheHorseCourse is a leader in well-evidenced high impact equine-assisted interventions. Having proven our work in prisons, we have established a busy community-based HQ in Weymouth, Dorset, UK. Employing 6 facilitators and 14 horses, we work with young people from 8yrs old, families and adults. In Dorset we help at least 500 extremely troubled people each year, and we do not charge the participants – our funding comes from a mix of commissioning and charitable grants/donations. We also provide Alternative Provision for young people out of education, accredited qualifications (in partnership with Weymouth College), and supported volunteering through our Working Wellies project.
We train and assess others to replicate our programmes and we work hard to support them in setting up their own centres around the UK. Independent centres running our programmes are becoming increasingly busy and more are opening. We monitor their impact data to ensure they are as effective as we are, and provide ongoing support and training.
We hold an Animal Activity Licence from Dorset Council, No: WPRE0002 (licence holder is Harriet Laurie). We also maintain the Social Farms & Gardens Code of Practice compliance.
Participants are 8yrs to adult, by referral only from Schools & PRUs, Social Care, NHS Mental Health Services, Troubled Families, Offender Services and other specialist agencies.
Our ReStart participants have serious struggles – typically more than four from the list below. And they are referred because they are ‘stuck’ or disengaged from talk-based support. We teach, rehearse and repeat key resilience and relationship skills in an intensive and challenging, but fun, 5 day programme with feedback in-the-moment from specially trained horses and 1-to-1 facilitator support.
- anxiety diagnosis
- not attending school (training, work)
- relationship difficulties
- mood swings/impulsivity
- highly disengaged
- self harming
- bullying, aggression, anger management issues
- being bullied
- risk taking behaviour
- drug & alcohol misuse
- eating disorder
- domestic violence
- neglect / abuse
- difficult family dynamics
- parents with mental health problems, offending or D&A
- living in care, leaving care or at risk of going into care
- from area of high deprivation
- wounded in service
Lighter Touch options
In addition to the intensive ReStart we offer Lighter Touch options such as top ups, tailored sessions and group work - different ways to help people at a lower level of need or to provide longer term support after a ReStart course. We also run "Working Wellies", our supported volunteering programme for ex-participants, based around horticulture, land and yard care – which keeps our site clean and lovely and our horses happy and healthy, whilst providing a safe and friendly place to learn and socialise.
We offer frontline professionals and the public a 2 hour training in our specialism - reading and responding to non-verbal behaviour. A game-changer with difficult emotions or behaviours and a briliant way to work on better family dynamics.
OutcomesWe are held up as an exemplar in our approach to evidencing the outcomes of our work (see evidence).
A report published by NPC & CLINKS and peer reviewed by CSAAP (the academic panel at the Ministry of Justice) showed a 27 % point reduction in reoffending (where 10% is large).
Studies by Bournemouth University show long term shifts in behaviour, over 70% of ReStart participants:
- are less anxious (with a 33% average improvement)
- have reduced problem behaviours
- improved attendance/engagement at school, training or work
- improved relationships with peers, families and professionals
- increased self belief and hope
- Creative England/Wellcome Trust/NHS Create Open Health 2019
- Royal College of Psychiarty Annual General Conference (2 prizes) 2018
- FSI Small Charity BIG Impact, Regional Section Winner 2017
- Dorset County Council Innovation Award 2016
- School for Social Entrepreneurs Fellowship 2016
- BIG Lottery Peoples Project 2016
- Shortlisted for the Guardian Small Charity Awards 2015
- Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship 2013
- Shackleton Award 2011